Standing Firm in the End Times

Standing Firm

This past month, I had to totally reload my main computer. A malware virus somehow got into the operating system. Vista was so badly corrupted that I had to reload the whole program.

As a result of the reload, I found myself looking at files I had not viewed in a few years. I ran across a photo taken at a hotel in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The picture was of me and about eight other people who were friends of the site. Most of them were connected to our message board.

There was obviously something unusual about the photo, or I wouldn't be writing about it. What caught my attention is that none of the people in the group shot are still active on RR or any other Christian site. They have all disappeared for various reasons.

For the past five years, Rapture Ready has had around 200,000-250,000 people visit the site in any given month. Despite this stability, I know this number does not represent the same people each month. We have had millions of people come and go over the years.

What causes this massive turnover rate is a lack of endurance. People have an interest in prophecy that is very fickle. If a war breaks out in the Middle East, they all come running to the site to see if it means the end is near. Once the fighting dies down, they go back to whatever they were doing before.

I can understand why the "Curious George" crowd would come and go so quickly. What fascinates me, however, is the number of people who have had a long-standing commitment to doing the Lord's work, but yet eventually fall away.

I know some of the individual reasons for the disappearance of a few folks in the photo. One had financial problems, another had trouble with a marital breakdown, and one even had sexual identity issues.
Most of them just drifted away as if they had lost all interest in prophecy. I traced a couple of these folks down by searching various account names they regularly used. One is active on He had left a few comments about various tech gadgets. The other person had joined a political board and had made some rather shocking posts.

A key factor that allows people to shift in their commitment is called "social desirability bias." People will maintain a positive view of what they are doing despite the reality of their actions.

This phenomenon turns up in poll results when people are asked questions according to what they think they should be doing, rather than what they are doing. For example, a poll by Barna Research showed that 17 percent of American adults say they tithe 10 percent or more of their income to their church. However, tax records show that only 3 percent actually do. Various studies have shown that 40 percent of Americans attend church services at least twice each month. When you use a more indirect method, like telling people they may have been exposed to a deadly virus and then asking them to list all the places they've been in the past week, the number drops to 20 percent.

"Social desirability bias" is just a fancy phrase for lying, but it’s useful because it explains how people rationalize their actions. In the area of prophecy, people believe they are still watching for their Lord’s return, when in reality they are doing nothing because they are waiting for things to get more active. This is why we should always judge our commitments by our actions, not by our intentions.

Each week, I normally receive something in the mail from someone who has put together a compilation of the end-time dates. Up until now, all of their forecasts have obviously been wrong. Last year, a gentleman sent me a book about how the Rapture would occur in 2008. He had a website with the address of If you click on it, 2009-rapture will come up. It's getting to be late in the year, so I wonder if he has registered the domain

The secret to being a successful end-time watcher is not figuring out some magic code regarding when the big events will take place. The true secret is endurance. Jesus said that when He comes back, He is going to catch the Church off-guard. If you want to know how late it is, don't look at charts. Take a gaze at the level of commitment in the body of Christ. Of course, if you do, you'll know time is very short.

"Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book" (Revelation 22:7).
"Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch" (Mark 13:35-37).

-- Todd  


Michael James Stone is now Posting Weekly. New posts, several, are added on Thursday from all Week long-MjS

Rights Talk' Run Amok ~ Chuck Colson

Chuck ColsonIn July 2008, Ian Martin needed a place to stay. That should have worked well for Douglas McCue, the owner of the CornerStone Bed and Breakfast.

Well, maybe it would have in another place, time, and culture.

Martin is blind and uses a seeing-eye dog. That wouldn’t be a problem, except that B&B owner McCue “suffers from acute sinusitis aggravated by exposure to canines.” Thus, no matter how much he wanted to rent Martin a room, his health wouldn’t permit it. 

That should have ended the matter.

Except that, as Canadian columnist Mark Steyn notes, this was Ontario, home to the Human Rights Commission. 

Martin filed a complaint and demanded compensation that “started at two grand and quickly escalated into five figures.” 

Eventually, McCue paid a $700 fine, issued a perfunctory apology-and then closed his bed and breakfast.

What happened to McCue was outrageous, but it could have been worse. He could have been sued for refusing to allow a horse to stay in one of his rooms.

Earlier this year, the Chicago Tribune ran a story about a blind Muslim woman in Dearborn, Michigan, who rides the bus with a seeing-eye miniature horse named “Cali.” That’s because dogs-even seeing-eye dogs-can, quote, “violate [Muslim] ritual purity.”

What if the woman had visited Perth, Ontario, and needed a place to stay? Could McCue have refused her a room? After all, while a horse is a horse of course, of course, it’s also an expression of her rights as both a disabled person and a Muslim.

For that matter, would the fact that McCue is gay factor into the whole “rights” equation? Could she, as a Muslim, ban a homosexual bed and breakfast owner from his own home? Or what if the blind man, Martin, had shown up with his dog at the same time? Could she force him to leave?

What’s going on here is more than political correctness run amok. As Mark Steyn rightly says, it’s part of ongoing process wherein government is seen “as the only valid mediator of social relations.”

What Steyn characterizes as “invented rights of near parodic absurdity” is the logical outcome of what Harvard law professor Mary Anne Glendon calls “rights talk.” According to Glendon, the emphasis on “rights” promotes “unrealistic expectations” and “heightens social conflict.”

That’s because it condones accepting the benefits of living in a democratic society without accepting the “corresponding personal and civic responsibilities.” In a culture dominated by “rights talk,” we engage each other not as fellow-citizens or neighbors, but as autonomous rights-bearers.

When our rights inevitably come into conflict, the only recourse we have is government-the courts, human rights tribunals, or laws that favor one kind of rights-bearer over another. Coercion replaces compromise, “mutual forbearance,” and, ultimately, “peaceful coexistence.”

As Steyn notes, in the last well-publicized Human Rights Commission case involving a gay man and a bed and breakfast, a Christian couple lost their business. This time the gay man lost his.

Eventually, our dependence on “rights talk” will cost us all something much more valuable than a room to rent: our freedom.

Chuck Smith: The Christian Family Five: We don't always agree in practice with what God has said

"We don't always agree in practice with what God has Said "

God's Rules of Order

I believe that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. I'm convinced of that. I believe that God wants your life to be filled with joy. I believe that God wants your life to be as an overflowing cup.

I believe God is a very wise and loving Father who is concerned with the joy and happiness of His children. He is grieved when you're unhappy, despondent, or having problems. I believe God's desire for you is a full, rich, abundant life. Jesus said, "I have come
that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

Thus, God set forth certain principles or rules in His wisdom, knowing how He had created us, knowing our capacities and capabilities, and knowing our needs. He set up His rules and said,

"This is the way to joy, happiness, peace, love, and a rich life."

Our problem is that we don't always agree in practice with what God has said. We may agree in principle. But we soon get to that place of divergence between the principle and the application. 

  1. So, if you ask me whether I believe the Bible -yes. 
  2. Do I always practice what the Bible espouses - no. 

And whenever I violate one of the rules, I'm the one who suffers.

God's rules are really the rules of happiness. 

They are the rules of success. David said, "Blessed (how happy) is the man... (whose) delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law does he meditate day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf
also shall not whither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper" (Psalms 1:1-3).

Moses told Joshua to take the law of the Lord and meditate in it day and night, "for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good
success" (Joshua 1:8).

As I look at the rules God has set forth, I may say, "I could never be happy doing that."

I may argue in my heart with the rules of God. 
 But, in reality, I'll never be happy until I obey them. 

The world is filled today with frustrated people. 

They have that sense of life-is-passing-me-by. "There must be more to life than this!" 

Thus, there's that quest and search for fulfillment, for satisfaction,
for something to take care of this crazy yearning within.

This is a result from arguing with the rules that God has set up, and by trying to find happiness and peace apart from obedience to the command of God. God has set up a certain order. 

You may argue with it, you may debate it, you may
violate it.

But you'll never find real peace, happiness, and joy until you submit to it.

Jesus Saves, for Life

Jesus Saves, for Life

By Ron Graham

 “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” John 10:28

God entered His creation, and became flesh. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us...” John 1:14. Jesus is God incarnate.

Jesus is God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,” John 1:1. The Apostle John identifies Jesus Christ as the word, and the Word was God. Now that we’ve established Jesus’ credentials we may proceed. In the verse from John 10 Jesus gives believers the wonderful promise of eternal life and eternal security. 

God has given mankind a great resource for knowledge and truth. That resource, the Bible, is replete with how man must respond to God’s free gift of salvation in order to be justified in God’s eyes. Let me also say that no man can enter Heaven unless they have responded to God’s free gift of salvation by receiving the Son of God (Jesus the Christ) as their savior.

Over and over again I receive messages from folks who are very concerned that I’m leading people astray because of my stance on the believer’s security. I’m told that “Just because a person believes and becomes a follower of Jesus Christ (a born again believer) doesn’t mean they are completely secure”. 

I am then inundated with scripture verses that, in their minds, prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that believers can lose our salvation. Losing our salvation is completely contrary to God’s word. If you and I, once we are justified (saved in God’s eyes), can lose our salvation or even walk away from our salvation once we are born again, then God becomes a weak and insignificant God, one who certainly wouldn’t have the power to create the universe let alone save us from our sins.
It simply amazes me that born again believers will dispute God’s word, and at many different levels of understanding. To me it makes no sense, if we are born again, to argue with the one who saved us. After all who’s word is it? It’s not man that we’re disputing and squabbling with when we disagree with the word of God. It’s God Himself. For example, man has come up with many different scenarios as to how the creation of the universe came to be. 

Man has decided to believe in billions of years for the creation of the universe. They’ve plainly stated and they teach the earth to be billions of years old, and that man evolved from pond scum. In God’s word He tells us how it all happened in six literal, 24 hour days but as man’s “knowledge” has increased over the centuries so has his arrogance. God’s now wrong or the Bible is a myth. Many of my brethren will without any hesitation place their faith in man’s new “discoveries” over God’s word. You may be surprised to find out just how many Christians believe man’s published discoveries over God’s inerrant word when it comes to the age of the universe or the evolution of man.

Actually there is a lot more to that verse in John 10 than initially meets the eye. I’ve read John 10 many times and written about the believer’s security in past commentaries. The part of this particular verse that has eluded many Bible teachers in the past is, “they shall never perish”. I don’t know why Jesus’ words don’t always get all the recognition they should but if you will bear with me you will see how very significant they are.

We’ll need to go back a verse to get the full impact of what Jesus is saying. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” John 10:27. Okay, Jesus is speaking about born again believers. The best part of that particular verse is Jesus says “I know them”. God knows us when we become born again “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God...” Galatians 4:9a. Paul is speaking to the Galatians who are saved as being known of God.   

Side note:
I can tell you for certain that if Jesus doesn’t know you, you’re not saved. “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:23. The relationship we enjoy with our Lord Jesus is a two way street. We know Him and we are known of Him. 

Then Jesus goes on to specifically convey His truth. He says, “I give unto them eternal life.” That should be good enough for anyone who feels the need to argue with God. When we read those words and we are truly born again, we can be certain we are going to spend an eternity with our Lord Jesus. Not to ever be separated from Him such as those who will be spending eternity in Hell. Believers will always be with Him. Jesus will never take away your eternal life if you truly have eternal life.
Jesus says neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. Well, first of all Jesus is God so who would be able to pluck any believer out of His hand? Who would even try to do such a thing? Let’s see, he isn’t a man but Satan would love to take believers away from God. All believers should be keenly aware that that scenario just isn’t possible. This is the part of that whole verse that trips up many Bible teachers. They say, “Yes, we agree that a believer can’t lose their salvation, but they can walk away from it”. Well, not according to the creator of the universe. 

Still, they’ll focus their argument on other parts of God’s word. So, Jesus, giving his followers eternal life does little to convince the skeptic of the security of the believer. Their argument continues, “Jesus didn’t say a believer can’t walk away from that eternal life He gave them.” Au contraire my friends, Jesus made it perfectly clear in the very next part of the verse. But just like many others these skeptics skip right over these five little words “and they shall never perish”. Key word? Never

Those who belong to Him are His sheep and His sheep know His voice “and they shall never perish”. The Greek word that God used here is ou mÄ“ translated “never, certainly not, not at all, by no means”. Jesus expresses, purposely for all the doubters, a double negative, strongly expressing a negation. “In no wise” can one of my sheep ever lose or walk away from the eternal life I’ve given them.
You still want to argue with God Almighty? If you insist we’ll keep going, although for the life of me I can’t see why you insist on arguing with God. At any rate let’s proceed. The word Jesus uses for “pluck” as in “neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” is Harpazo in the Greek. That word may be very familiar to most of you rapture enthusiasts. It means to seize and to carry off by force. So, just who is able to seize the believers “In Christ” (Christ’s sheep) and carry them off, by force no less? 

What did Jesus say about the importance of even one of His sheep “... if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.” Matthew 18:12, 13. Every one of those who have been born from above is as secure as Heaven itself. If it were not so Jesus would have certainly told us. 

“My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one.” John 10:29, 30. After Jesus finishes telling us that no man can pluck (Harpazo) those who are born again out of His hands He takes us a step further and seals the whole concept of the believer’s security by proclaiming that all believers are in God the Father’s hands also. 

And “no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand”. Now we have the skeptic to the believer’s security telling us we can walk away from God the Father and God the Son by escaping out of their hands. God the Father gives all believers to Jesus His Son. Would God give His only begotten Son a bunch of renegades who, at the first chance they get would conspire to escape his clutches? Why? So they can escape that horrible idea of eternal salvation in Heaven with Jesus Christ? Not hardly.

It has always amazed me how the emails come flooding in about how wrong I am. They try and remind me of all the scripture verses that seemingly contradict what I’ve espoused above. Incredibly many people will continually stand adamantly against the believer’s security and they will diligently work at convincing me to do the same. If we will remember that there are no contradictions in God’s word it will help to affirm what I’m trying to explain. Actually all those other verses the skeptics love to point out only add to the whole proof of the believer’s security. 

Case in point “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” Revelation 3:5. Obviously, if Jesus can blot out the name of a born again believer from the book of life, believers can lose their salvation, right? It’s only a misinterpretation that leads people to conclude Jesus would ever remove a believers name from the book of life.

But if we look at the verse correctly, in context “He who overcomes . . . I will never blot out his name from the book of life.” The “overcomer” mentioned in this letter to Sardis is the believer. John tells us “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world.” Also “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” John 5:4, 5. “I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one” 1 John 2:13b. All believers are “overcomers” in that they have been granted victory over the sin and unbelief of the world.

Some people see in Revelation 3:5 God’s pen ready to strike out the name of any Christian who sins. They read into it something like this: “If you mess up and don’t win the victory, then you’re going to lose your salvation! In fact, I will erase your name from the Book of Life!” But this is not what the verse says. Jesus gives the overcomer (believer) a promise here, not a warning.

In His word God never says that He erases a believer’s name from the Book of Life –there is never even a warning that He is contemplating such a thing! The wonderful promise of Revelation 3:5 is that Jesus will not erase one’s name. Speaking to the “overcomers”–all those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb–Jesus gives His word that He will not remove their names. He affirms that once a name is there, it is there forever. This promise is not based on our faithfulness but on the faithfulness of God.

On the other hand “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:19.

This verse is another of those verses that these skeptics will trot out to prove me wrong. The problem with this verse is those who would change God’s word are not believers. No truly “born again” believer “In Christ” would ever tamper with His word. No, these are those who are of pseudo-Christian cults and those who hold to very liberal theological beliefs. Many cults and theological liberals claim the name of Christ as their own, but they are not “born again”. Names that aren’t in the Lamb’s book of life can’t possibly be removed.

There are, of course, many other scripture verses that confirm Jesus’ own words. Once a person becomes born again, born from above, born from God they are sealed until the day of redemption. There are no more arguments. If you must argue, take them up with God.
For all of those who read this commentary who aren’t born again, it’s not too late. Speak to the Lord Jesus Christ yourself, and say “Yes Lord, I believe” before time runs out...tick, tick, tick.
God bless you all,
Ron Graham
All scripture is from the KJV           

How Do We Love God Practically - Part 2 (Way of Agape)

How Do We Love God Practically - Part 2
by Nancy Missler
In Part One we began a series on what it means to love God in our every day lives. In other words, what are the day-to-day steps in laying down our wills and our lives to God and loving Him as He desires.

We shared that there are eight steps to what I call my "Survival Kit." These are steps that God has laid out for us in Scripture to help us deal with our sin and become those open and cleansed vessels--loving Him.

The first four steps we covered in Part One

These are attitudes that we need to form daily. They are not steps we have to do each time we quench God's Spirit, but simply a mind-set we should have on each day. 

Inner Court Ritual

The final four steps of the Survival Kit, however, are mandatory steps, ones we must do each time we sin and quench God's Spirit. These four steps are known as the "Inner Court Ritual," because they are the actual steps that the priests took in the Inner Court of the Temple in order to deal with their sin. First, the priests went to the ten Bronze Lavers to wash their hands and feet before worshipping, then they went to the holocaust Altar where they offered their sacrifices, and, lastly, they bathed totally in the Moulton Sea.
These steps are not something I have made up or that I found in a psychology book.

This is the actual process (the Inner Court Ritual) that the Lord has laid out in Scripture to help us deal with our sin. 

I recommend putting each of these steps (especially the last four) on 3x5 cards. Keep the cards with you at all times. When something bad occurs, take out the cards, prayerfully go through the steps, and then choose by faith to believe that God has reconciled you to Himself. God is faithful. If you do your part; He will do His.

Going through these steps every time we are confronted with a hurtful remark, a painful situation, pride, fear, resentment, bitterness, and so on, is what enables us to be cleansed and prepared vessels for what God might call us to do next. It's imperative that we prevent the ungodly thoughts and feelings from accumulating in us. If we're not cleansed vessels, we will not be ready or available for God's use and we will find ourselves "contaminating" everyone we come in contact with ("making a stink" as Isaiah 3:24a says). 

Mandatory Steps

The following four steps are critical to do each time we recognize we have quenched God's Spirit and are separated from Him. 

[So I don't confuse anyone, let me explain exactly what I mean when I say "separated from God." If we are believers, we always have God's Love and His Life in our hearts. Romans 8:28 tells us that "nothing separates us from His Love," and 1 Corinthians 13:8 tells us "His Love never stops coming."

However, if God's Spirit in our hearts is quenched because of sin (any choice that we have made that is not of faith), then that Love of God will not be able to flow out into our lives (our souls).

Technically yes, we still have God's Love in our hearts, but practically, until we deal with our sin, we won't have His Love out in our lives. Thus, Isaiah 59:2, "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear," is also true.] 

So, if something has just occurred that has already caused us to make wrong emotional choices (sin), and we are already feeling hurt, angry, bitter, resentful, doubtful, prideful, fearful, and so on, then we must do the following four steps in order to have His Love flow once again. 

Here's an overview of the four mandatory steps that we will be studying in depth in the next part: (In the actual Inner Court Ritual, Step #1 and #2 were really only one step. But because there is so much that goes on in this first step, for simplicity sake, I have made it into two separate steps.)
  1. Recognize, acknowledge, and experience the negative thoughts, emotions, and desires (self-life) that have just occured. Don't vent these feelings and don't stuff them. Learn to give them to God. Get alone with God and experience your emotions. Name how you are feeling. Ask God to expose the real root cause of your ungodly thoughts and feelings (pride, unbelief, fears, insecurities, etc.)   
  2. If you know that you have held on to these negative thoughts and feelings for awhile, then you need to confess them as sin. They have separated you from God. Choose to repent of them (which simply means, change your mind about holding on to them) and choose to follow what God is telling you to do instead. Also, a part of this step, is to unconditionally forgive others involved. God then will forgive your sins. (Bronze Lavers)
  3. Give over to God all that He has shown you, not only the conscious negative thoughts and emotions, but also their root causes. God then will purge your sin and reconcile you to Himself. (Holocaust Altar)
  4. Read God's Word. Be sure to replace the lies with the Truth. God then will cleanse and heal your soul with "the washing of the water of the Word." (Molten Sea)
Now, by faith, we can know that God has restored us back into His Image. In His perfect timing, He will align our feelings with the choices we have just made. 

Step One: Recognize Self-Centered Thoughts, Emotions, and Desires

The critical step that I would like to expand upon is the first step of the Inner Court Ritual--our need to recognize our painful thoughts, our wild emotions, and our self-centered desires. 

This is what the priests did at the Lavers of Bronze. The Lavers themselves were made of women's "looking-glasses" (mirrors of polished metal). As the priests bent over the lavers to wash their hands, they would see "their own reflection," their own true selves in the mirrored Lavers. 

I believe what the priests did is symbolic of exactly what the Lord requires us to do. We are to ask God not only to bring to light what's going on in our conscious thoughts, emotions, and desires, but we are also to ask Him to shed light on all those things in our hidden chambers. In other words, we want the real root causes of our negative thoughts and emotions to be exposed. Why are we reacting so violently over what has just happened? (Keep in mind the conscious, surface emotions are really just the symptoms. The real root causes are often hidden. If the root cause can be exposed and gotten rid of, then the surface emotions will not occur again.) 

Get Alone With God

It's important at this point, if we can, to get alone with the Lord so we can go through these steps and deal with our sin properly. Now, I stop whenever I find myself hurt, angry, resentful, critical, self-centered, prideful, ungrateful, anxious, confused, arrogant, afraid, bitter, judgemental, or filled with any negative emotion, and I try to get alone with God and go through these steps. Jesus is the only one who can expose and cleanse our sin--and totally heal us from the inside out. 

Even in the middle of an argument with Chuck, as I have said before, if I find myself getting emotional and reacting self-centeredly, I stop the conversation and I simply tell Chuck, "I need to go and be with Jesus now or I am going to explode." The first time I did this he was offended, but now he says he likes me so much better after I come out from "being with Jesus," that he freely lets me go. It's so critical to be "cleansed" in order to respond the way God would have us. Don't ever "confront" someone or "take a stand" with someone, unless you are a clean vessel! If you are not clean, it will be self-life out there and not God's Life at all. And you will sink even further into the pit than you were before. 

(Even if I can only go through these steps "mentally" at the time, I do it. By "mentally," I mean that, because I am busy, I'm not able, at that moment to pull away from the situation to be alone with God and let my feelings out. I can only go through these steps in my mind. In any case, it's critical not to let the sin accumulate.) 

Acknowledge Real Thoughts and Emotions

We are to be aware of and acknowledge the sinful feelings that are coming up. We need to recognize the fears, the insecurities, and the doubts that we are experiencing. We need to call them for what they are. We need to be truthful and honest about them. It's important to be honest, God knows it anyway. 

One woman asked me, not too long ago, if we should let our real feelings out. "Does God really want us to do that?," she asked. I told her that God has given us a perfect example in Scripture. David was called a "man after God's own heart," and yet we read how he expressed his real thoughts and feelings to God in Psalm 55:15, Psalm 109:5-20, and other places. 

It's also critical to "experience" our emotions. It's only the Lord that we are talking to, so we can cry or let out whatever emotions is needed. This will not only help us in understanding how we are really feeling, but it will also help us recognize exactly what we need to give over to God. 

Oftentimes, I will go through these steps and forget (either because of time pressures or a lack of opportunity) to really let my feelings out. After a day or so, I wonder why my peace has not returned. More often than not, it's because I have forgotten to really "experience my negative feelings." They are still bottled up within me. Therefore, I have to go back and once again go through these steps. Acknowledging and experiencing how I really feel, I believe, is part of the restoration process. 

We Must "See" Our Sin

Scripture never says we won't have negative, bad, and self-centered thoughts, emotions, and desires. We're all still human and we will have these thoughts and feelings until the day we see Jesus. The Bible does say, however, that we can have victory over the "desires of the flesh," if we constantly make faith choices to give these negative things over to God--not allowing them to motivate our actions. But again, we can't give things over to God if we don't know what they are! 

So, remember we must recognize and acknowledge our ungodly thoughts and emotions, so that then we know exactly what to hand over to God. 

It's also important to understand that we can't "hold on" to negative thoughts and feelings without eventually acting out of them. Even if we try to keep them buried, they still become the motivation for our actions, whether we are aware of it or not. Burying our hurts, memories, fears, and so on, does not get rid of them. The only thing that gets rid of them, is allowing God to expose them and then our giving them over to Him.

Example: Twenty Years of Buried Hurt

A woman, who attended a retreat I spoke at, wrote to me last year and shared how much she hated the "Inner Court Ritual" part of the Be Ye Transformed message. She said she had such a hard time with these principles, but she wasn't really sure why. Even after she left the retreat, she just couldn't get the study off her mind. Finally, she decided to ask God to expose why she was so upset. "Let's see if this really works," she sarcastically thought to herself. Then she went through these steps. 

God answered her prayer and exposed exactly why she was so upset. He showed her that she still had tremendous resentment and bitterness towards her first husband, who had left her some 20 years before. God showed her that she was reacting to these principles out of those hurts--she never wanted to have to think about that man again. 

This dear woman thought she had dealt with all those hurt feelings years ago. In reality, all she had done was bury those negative emotions and for twenty years she had carried them around with her. After wrestling with God for some time, she decided to go through these steps all over again. Only this time, she wanted to deal with her hurts the proper way. So she asked God to bring up all that was buried down in her soul.
She said she experienced such a freedom that day that even her new husband commented that evening, "What's going on! You look so happy!" (Even our physical countenance will be changed when we learn to really love God and are freed from something we have carried around for years.) She sat right down and wrote me a sixteen page letter on what the Lord had shown her. 

A few weeks later, after I had written her back, I got another ten page letter from her, telling me of the most exciting miracle of all. Five years previously, she had suffered a major heart attack during an operation. Since then she had been in constant pain and on a heavy dosage of heart medication. When she made the choice to let go of the horrible feelings of hate for her first husband, God supernaturally healed her heart condition. She wrote me that she is not in any more pain and has not taken any heart medication since. The doctor has confirmed her healing and he is totally baffled.

I don't believe we realize how closely tied our spiritual and psychological well-being is with or physical bodies. Healing in one often does affect the other. 

In order to be truly free of our past and be able to act out of God's Love, we must get rid of our ungodly thoughts and feelings the proper way: by allowing God to expose them, by our looking squarely at them and calling them for what they are, and then by our choosing to give these things back over to God and be rid of them forever. 

Psalm 103:12 says, "As far as the east is from the west, So far hath He removed our transgressions from us." 

In Part Three, we will continue our study on how we love God "practically," by exploring the second step of the Inner Court Ritual, confessing our own responsibility.

Afghanistan: The War We will Not Win Brother of Afghan Leader Paid by C.I.A.

Brother of Afghan Leader Said to Be Paid by C.I.A.

KABUL, AfghanistanAhmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.

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Banaras Khan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Ahmed Wali Karzai, right, the brother of President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, at a campaign event in Kandahar in August.


 The Takeaway With Mark Mazzetti

The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home.

The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Mr. Karzai raise significant questions about America’s war strategy, which is currently under review at the White House.
The ties to Mr. Karzai have created deep divisions within the Obama administration. The critics say the ties complicate America’s increasingly tense relationship with President Hamid Karzai, who has struggled to build sustained popularity among Afghans and has long been portrayed by the Taliban as an American puppet.

The C.I.A.’s practices also suggest that the United States is not doing everything in its power to stamp out the lucrative Afghan drug trade, a major source of revenue for the Taliban.

More broadly, some American officials argue that the reliance on Ahmed Wali Karzai, the most powerful figure in a large area of southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, undermines the American push to develop an effective central government that can maintain law and order and eventually allow the United States to withdraw.

“If we are going to conduct a population-centric strategy in Afghanistan, and we are perceived as backing thugs, then we are just undermining ourselves,” said Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the senior American military intelligence official in Afghanistan.

Ahmed Wali Karzai said in an interview that he cooperated with American civilian and military officials, but did not engage in the drug trade and did not receive payments from the C.I.A.

The relationship between Mr. Karzai and the C.I.A. is wide ranging, several American officials said. He helps the C.I.A. operate a paramilitary group, the Kandahar Strike Force, that is used for raids against suspected insurgents and terrorists. On at least one occasion, the strike force has been accused of mounting an unauthorized operation against an official of the Afghan government, the officials said.

Mr. Karzai is also paid for allowing the C.I.A. and American Special Operations troops to rent a large compound outside the city — the former home of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban’s founder. The same compound is also the base of the Kandahar Strike Force. “He’s our landlord,” a senior American official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Mr. Karzai also helps the C.I.A. communicate with and sometimes meet with Afghans loyal to the Taliban. Mr. Karzai’s role as a go-between between the Americans and the Taliban is now regarded as valuable by those who support working with Mr. Karzai, as the Obama administration is placing a greater focus on encouraging Taliban leaders to change sides.

A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment for this article.

“No intelligence organization worth the name would ever entertain these kind of allegations,” said Paul Gimigliano, the spokesman.

Some American officials said that the allegations of Mr. Karzai’s role in the drug trade were not conclusive.
“There’s no proof of Ahmed Wali Karzai’s involvement in drug trafficking, certainly nothing that would stand up in court,” said one American official familiar with the intelligence. “And you can’t ignore what the Afghan government has done for American counterterrorism efforts.”

At the start of the Afghan war, just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, American officials paid warlords with questionable backgrounds to help topple the Taliban and maintain order with relatively few American troops committed to fight in the country. But as the Taliban has become resurgent and the war has intensified, Americans have increasingly viewed a strong and credible central government as crucial to turning back the Taliban’s advances.

Now, with more American lives on the line, the relationship with Mr. Karzai is setting off anger and frustration among American military officers and other officials in the Obama administration. They say that Mr. Karzai’s suspected role in the drug trade, as well as what they describe as the mafialike way that he lords over southern Afghanistan, makes him a malevolent force.

These military and political officials say the evidence, though largely circumstantial, suggests strongly that Mr. Karzai has enriched himself by helping the illegal trade in poppy and opium to flourish. The assessment of these military and senior officials in the Obama administration dovetails with that of senior officials in the Bush administration.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars in drug money are flowing through the southern region, and nothing happens in southern Afghanistan without the regional leadership knowing about it,” a senior American military officer in Kabul said. Like most of the officials in this article, he spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the information.

“If it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck,” the American officer said of Mr. Karzai. “Our assumption is that he’s benefiting from the drug trade.”

American officials say that Afghanistan’s opium trade, the largest in the world, directly threatens the stability of the Afghan state, by providing a large percentage of the money the Taliban needs for its operations, and also by corrupting Afghan public officials to help the trade flourish.

The Obama administration has repeatedly vowed to crack down on the drug lords who are believed to permeate the highest levels of President Karzai’s administration. They have pressed him to move his brother out of southern Afghanistan, but he has so far refused to do so.

Other Western officials pointed to evidence that Ahmed Wali Karzai orchestrated the manufacture of hundreds of thousands of phony ballots for his brother’s re-election effort in August. He is also believed to have been responsible for setting up dozens of so-called ghost polling stations — existing only on paper — that were used to manufacture tens of thousands of phony ballots.

“The only way to clean up Chicago is to get rid of Capone,” General Flynn said.

In the interview in which he denied a role in the drug trade or taking money from the C.I.A., Ahmed Wali Karzai said he received regular payments from his brother, the president, for “expenses,” but said he did not know where the money came from. He has, among other things, introduced Americans to insurgents considering changing sides. And he has given the Americans intelligence, he said. But he said he was not compensated for that assistance.

“I don’t know anyone under the name of the C.I.A.,” Mr. Karzai said. “I have never received any money from any organization. I help, definitely. I help other Americans wherever I can. This is my duty as an Afghan.”

Mr. Karzai acknowledged that the C.I.A. and Special Operations troops stayed at Mullah Omar’s old compound. And he acknowledged that the Kandahar Strike Force was based there. But he said he had no involvement with them.

A former C.I.A. officer with experience in Afghanistan said the agency relied heavily on Ahmed Wali Karzai, and often based covert operatives at compounds he owned. Any connections Mr. Karzai might have had to the drug trade mattered little to C.I.A. officers focused on counterterrorism missions, the officer said.
“Virtually every significant Afghan figure has had brushes with the drug trade,” he said. “If you are looking for Mother Teresa, she doesn’t live in Afghanistan.”

The debate over Ahmed Wali Karzai, which began when President Obama took office in January, intensified in June, when the C.I.A.’s local paramilitary group, the Kandahar Strike Force, shot and killed Kandahar’s provincial police chief, Matiullah Qati, in a still-unexplained shootout at the office of a local prosecutor.
The circumstances surrounding Mr. Qati’s death remain shrouded in mystery. It is unclear, for instance, if any agency operatives were present — but officials say the firefight broke out when Mr. Qati tried to block the strike force from freeing the brother of a task force member who was being held in custody.

“Matiullah was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Mr. Karzai said in the interview.

Counternarcotics officials have repeatedly expressed frustration over the unwillingness of senior policy makers in Washington to take action against Mr. Karzai — or even begin a serious investigation of the allegations against him. In fact, they say that while other Afghans accused of drug involvement are investigated and singled out for raids or even rendition to the United States, Mr. Karzai has seemed immune from similar scrutiny.

For years, first the Bush administration and then the Obama administration have said that the Taliban benefits from the drug trade, and the United States military has recently expanded its target list to include drug traffickers with ties to the insurgency. The military has generated a list of 50 top drug traffickers tied to the Taliban who can now be killed or captured.

Senior Afghan investigators say they know plenty about Mr. Karzai’s involvement in the drug business. In an interview in Kabul this year, a top former Afghan Interior Ministry official familiar with Afghan counternarcotics operations said that a major source of Mr. Karzai’s influence over the drug trade was his control over key bridges crossing the Helmand River on the route between the opium growing regions of Helmand Province and Kandahar.

The former Interior Ministry official said that Mr. Karzai was able to charge huge fees to drug traffickers to allow their drug-laden trucks to cross the bridges.

But the former officials said it was impossible for Afghan counternarcotics officials to investigate Mr. Karzai. “This government has become a factory for the production of Talibs because of corruption and injustice,” the former official said.

Some American counternarcotics officials have said they believe that Mr. Karzai has expanded his influence over the drug trade, thanks in part to American efforts to single out other drug lords.

In debriefing notes from Drug Enforcement Administration interviews in 2006 of Afghan informants obtained by The New York Times, one key informant said that Ahmed Wali Karzai had benefited from the American operation that lured Hajji Bashir Noorzai, a major Afghan drug lord during the time that the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, to New York in 2005. Mr. Noorzai was convicted on drug and conspiracy charges in New York in 2008, and was sentenced to life in prison this year.

Habibullah Jan, a local military commander and later a member of Parliament from Kandahar, told the D.E.A. in 2006 that Mr. Karzai had teamed with Haji Juma Khan to take over a portion of the Noorzai drug business after Mr. Noorzai’s arrest.

Dexter Filkins reported from Kabul, and Mark Mazzetti and James Risen from Washington. Helene Cooper contributed reporting from Washington.

U.S. Christians Learn How to Share Christ with Muslims

U.S. Christians Learn How to Share Christ with Muslims

By Michelle A. Vu|Christian Post Reporter

More than 200 American Christians attended a conference in Indianapolis this past weekend to learn how to reach out to Muslims in North America.

Speakers at the Oasis Conference, hosted by Muslim outreach ministry Crescent Project, included two former Muslims and a pastor who was born and raised in the Middle East.

Attendees heard answers on questions such as: How can we reach out in love to our Muslim neighbors? How can we clearly present the gospel to Muslims without offending them? How can my congregation reach out to the Muslim community down the street? How can my student group reach out to Muslims on my campus?

As part of their effort to gain perspective on the lives of American Muslims, some Oasis attendees visited a mosque and witnessed a Friday prayer service.

Fouad Masri, Crescent Project founder and president, said the event was designed to mobilize, equip and encourage U.S. Christians to reach out to Muslims. He highlighted that there are only about two missionaries for every million Muslims in the world, "which means each one has to reach 500,000,” highlighted Masri, who was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, according to Mission Network News.

Masri said most Christians are afraid or don’t know where to begin to reach Muslims. But based on his long-time experience working with the growing population, he asserted that most Muslims want to know about Jesus and the Bible.

“Muslims are taking Bibles. Muslims talk about Jesus. We’ve seen people pray to receive Christ,” said the pastor who has been ministering to Muslims since 1979. “There’s such a hunger that we’ve never seen before because Islam has failed to answer the deepest questions.”
These deep questions include: Does God love me? Can I be sure my sins are forgiven? Can I be sure of eternal life?
“Our job is not to make the Muslim a Christian,” Fouad often reminds his audience, according to the ministry’s Web site. “Our job is to show them the love of Christ.”

Masri insists that Muslims are not “hard” to share the Gospel with. The issue rather is that they haven’t heard the Gospel, according to MNN.

The third-generation pastor is said to have trained nearly 11,000 North American Christians to “sensitively” and “purposefully” share their faith with Muslims.

Workshops at this year’s Oasis conference included: A Crash Course on Islam, A Muslims’ Mind: What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Islamic Tradition; The History of the Qur’an; Understanding the Daughters of Ishmael; Reaching the Muslim Next Door; Remaining Faithful When Little Fruit is Evident; and The Campus: A Strategic and Non-Threatening Platform for Sharing Jesus with Muslims.

In total, more than 20 workshops in the categories of understanding Islam, ministry skills, mobilization, and apologetics were offered during the three-day Oasis conference.

Jesus takes pride in His Church ~ Jon Courson

Jesus takes pride in His Church

As we do every year for his birthday, Peter John and I traveled to the Bay Area last August to see the Oakland A’s battle the Cleveland Indians. Quite honestly, however, although taking in a ballgame has become a tradition for Peter and me, I’m not sure I’m ever going again. You see, I have some big problems with big-league baseball.

Every time I go to the coliseum, I’m asked for money. And none of the people sitting next to me introduced themselves. The manager never paid a call on me, never welcomed me to the coliseum, and didn’t even know my name. And then there’s all those hypocrites in the stands, like the ladies polishing their nails and talking about what everyone was wearing.

Behind me were some fanatics who were worse than the hypocrites. Every time Jose Canseco got on base, they stood up and cheered and looked silly. And the umpires? Some of their calls were ridiculous. I’m sure I know more about baseball than they do. As for Peter, I don’t want to force him to go to major-league baseball games any more. I’ll let him decide for himself when he’s older.

Now, if someone said that, we would think he was crazy. Those reasons are all bogus. And yet, why is it that no one protests when those same objections are raised concerning church? Those are the exact reasons people give for not going to church: too fanatical; too hypocritical; too much talk about money; the pastor didn’t call on me; the people weren’t friendly; I’ll let my own kids decide eventually.

Our generation, it seems, has rejected church. In fact, I remember seeing a bumper sticker in the 60’s which sort of summed up our generational mentality: ‘Jesus Yes. Church No.’ And a lot of people are in that place. ‘Yeah, I’m into Jesus, but I’m not into the Church. No way.’

I’m here to say that I am really into the Church. You might think, ‘Well of course you are. You’re a pastor.’ But let me tell you — I am not into the Church because I’m a pastor. I am a pastor because I am into the Church.

The passage before us in Matthew 16 is very important for it is the first time Jesus Christ uses the word ‘church’. There is a principle of hermeneutics called the Principle of First Mention, which says: You will usually find key foundational understandings about a subject in the first place it is mentioned. Thus, when Jesus first mentions it in Matthew 16, we find four reasons why the Church is essential.

Jesus takes pride in His Church.

. . . upon this rock I will build my church . . . Matthew 16:18
The language is important. It speaks of a possessiveness, of an intimacy with us. Jesus didn’t say, ‘I will build a Church’, or ‘I’ll put up with the Church.’ He said, ‘I will build My Church.’ Jesus is proud of His people.

For both he that sanctifieth [Jesus] and they who are sanctified [us] are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. Hebrews 2:11-12

The writer of Hebrews declares Jesus is proud of us. Not ashamed of us, He sings praise to the Father right along with us in the midst of the congregation. Why isn’t He ashamed of us? Because He sees us in our potentiality.

When Jesus first called Peter, He said, ‘I call you Petros, ‘Small Rock’, because I’m going to change you from one who is unsteady to someone who’s solid, stable, useful.’

  1. Jesus sees us potentially. Jesus doesn’t see us with our present flaws, but in our potential usefulness.
  2. Jesus sees us prophetically. Because we are already in heaven, seated with Christ, He sees us as already perfect.
  3. Jesus sees us positionally. Jesus sees us robed in His righteousness, washed with His blood. Our sins, failures, and shortcomings are completely out of His sight and gone from His memory.
So He looks at us potentially, prophetically, and positionally and sees us as perfect. Incredible! This past week the Lord has dealt very deeply in my own heart along these lines, telling me to look not on the outward appearance, but on the heart — the way He looks at me.

I have discovered I have a tendency to judge people according to their actions, but to judge myself according to my intentions. And the Lord spoke to my heart, saying, ‘Jon, your world would be a whole lot sweeter if you reversed that. Judge yourself by what you do, but judge others by what they meant.’

Wouldn’t it be radical if we looked at people that way? At their intentions rather than their actions? That’s the way Jesus looks at His Church. He says, ‘I see your hearts, and I’m proud of you.’

Jesus prevails through His Church.

. . . and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18
For many years, a lot of us thought that the Church was a refuge, a fortress where we could hole up until the Lord came back. The gates of hell would not prevail against us if we huddled together within the Church singing, ‘Hold The Fort Til The Lord Comes’. But that’s not what Jesus meant.
Gates don’t prevail in and of themselves. I mean, how many of you have ever been attacked by a gate? No. Jesus is saying, ‘The gates of hell will not hold back My Church.

I am going to prevail through My Church. I will storm the gates of hell, where people have been held in bondage, where there has been darkness, discouragement, disease and death. I will prevail through My Church.’ When Jesus wants to touch someone in love or talk to someone about salvation, He storms the gates of hell through us, His Church.

Jesus protects by His Church.

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt lose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:19

Dr. Kenneth Wuest gives this proper translation: ‘Whatever shalt be loosed on earth shalt be loosed even as it is in heaven.’ Jesus protects by His Church, giving her the keys of His Kingdom.

If you look at Tammy’s keychain, you will see the same identical keys I have on my keychain. I’m her bridegroom. She’s my bride. And she has the same keys I do. Why? Because we share authority. We rule together over our Volkswagen fleet and our house. We are one.

So too, Jesus Christ, the Head, has given His bride, the Church, the keys to His Kingdom. What does this mean? In Matthew 18 and John 20, this same concept is reiterated. Matthew 18 deals with relationships, while John 20 deals with the forgiveness and the retaining of sin. What Jesus is saying is, ‘I’m giving authority to the church, to bring together or to loosen, even as it is happening in heaven.’

If people within the Church are having problems with one another, they are to work them out individually. But if they can’t, it’s a matter for the Church to deal with corporately. It’s not that we make those decrees ourselves; but through the Word by the Spirit, the Church can speak with authority, unlocking God’s truth and revealing God’s heart.

You see, those who say, ‘I don’t need Church. I’ll just do my own thing. I’ve got my own ideas about the Gospel and about worship,’ are vulnerable to anyone who comes along saying, ‘Let’s go to Guyana, or to Waco, and we’ll start a whole new movement. Who cares about Church history? Who cares about theology? Who cares about collegiality? We’ll do our own thing.’

That’s what happened with Jim Jones/David Koresh. Hundreds were killed because they strayed from the protection which comes from the Church, the authority of binding and loosing. And thus, there was death. Any Christian who ignores the Church will become vulnerable to needless bruises and wounds. The question arises: ‘Why have so many people in our generation rejected the Church?’ I suggest one reason:

Jesus is the priority of His Church.

Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am? Matthew 16:13
Jesus had come to Caesarea Philippi, 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee. At Caesarea Philippi, where the waters of the Jordan begin, there is a massive rock face — sort of like a miniature El Capitan. It’s one of the prettiest spots I’ve seen anywhere in the world.

There, Jesus gathered His boys and asked this question: ‘Whom do men say I am?’ His disciples then repeated the theories concerning Him that were floating around Israel . . . ‘Some say You’re John the Baptist.’

John the Baptist came on the scene, saying, ‘Repent! The Kingdom of God is at hand. You soldiers, quit oppressing the people. You tax collectors, quit extorting from the people. You fathers, be good to your children. Get it together. Repent.’ When Jesus appeared, He began His ministry with the same words: Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

So, reasoned some, because of His moral teaching and call to repentance, Jesus must be John the Baptist, returned from the dead.

Others said, ‘No. He’s Elijah, returned from heaven. Haven’t you seen the miracles He’s done? The lepers are cleansed. The blind see. The lame walk. Miracles happen. He must be Elijah.’

Others said, ‘No. He’s Jeremiah. ‘Haven’t you seen the care He shows to the lost, how they move His heart, how He weeps over them? He must be Jeremiah, the Weeping Prophet who cared so tenderly for the lost sheep of Israel.’

‘No,’ others said. ‘He must be That Prophet,’ referring to the prophet promised in Deuteronomy 18:15, who would come and fully explain the Law of Moses. Scripture records that the people marveled at the gracious words of Jesus saying, ‘No man speaks like this man.’ Truly, the common people heard Him gladly. Surely He must be ‘That Prophet’.

As I look around the country and the world, I see churches built upon one of those four misconceptions . . . There are those who say, ‘We’re going to build our church on John the Baptist. That’s who Jesus is. We’ll call it First Moral Majority Church. We’ll tell our community to repent. We’ll picket 7-11. We’ll write our congressman. We’ll organize and let our voice be heard in the community. We’ll tell people to get it together morally. And we’ll meet together to activate believers, to mobilize Christians, to get them going.’

Others say, ‘No, no, no. Our church is going to be built upon Elijah. That’s who Jesus is. We’ll call our church Miracle Center. It will be filled with miracles, signs, and wonders. People will see the glory and power of God fall at every single meeting. It’s going to be heavy!’

Others say, ‘No, no, no. Our Church is going to be built upon Jeremiah. That’s who Jesus is. We’ll call our church The Evangelical Expression. We’ll have a million-dollar mission budget. We’ll offer classes in door-to-door evangelism. We’ll spread throughout the community, expand throughout the world globally, and we’ll reach the world evangelistically. Like Jeremiah, we’ll weep over the lost.’

‘No, no, no,’ others say. ‘Our church is going to be built upon That Prophet. We’ll have three-hour marathon Bible studies Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. We’ll have seminars and syllabi. We’ll become hermeneutically flawless, exegetically excellent. We’ll offer Hebrew, Greek, Chaldean, and Aramaic. We’ll parse each verb. We’ll know each doctrine thoroughly. We’ll become a great teaching center.’

Look at our text. Jesus responded to none of these suggestions. It was only when Peter said, ‘Thou art the Christ — the Christos, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Son of the living God,’ that Jesus said, ‘Upon this rock I’ll build My Church.’ The Church which is not a platform for ministry or political activity or intellectual curiosity — the Church which simply says, ‘We want to know Jesus personally’ — is the Church Jesus will build.

When people say, ‘Jesus, You’re not simply a motivator for us politically; a teacher to us intellectually; a power for us miraculously; nor a program for us in mission ministry. You’re Everything. You’re all there is. We just want to know You. We want to love You. We want to walk with You and learn about You and become more like You,’ Jesus will build His Church upon their confession. And when a group of people come together and say, ‘Jesus we love You. We’re impressed with You. We want to learn of You and walk with You,’ guess what happens? The community around such a group begins to change.

A sheriff in Jackson County who is not a believer wrote me saying that as far as he is concerned, the Fellowship is the best thing that ever happened to curb the drug problem here in the Applegate Valley because so many of the top drug producers in the valley have become converts. Are we marching against marijuana? Are we politically active? No. It’s just that wherever Jesus is, the surroundings will be influenced very definitely.

Where Jesus builds His Church, there will be signs and wonders. Power will be experienced — not with fanfare, nor for itself — but in a supernaturally natural way. Where Jesus is the Christos, loved and honored, there will be evangelism — not because of a need to be a part of some program for ego-gratification, but rather because people will want to share what they have discovered in Christ. They will be in love with Him and will find themselves talking about Him — taking every opportunity to share the One Who means so much to them.

The person who is rock-solid in this life and on into eternity will be the one who says, ‘Jesus, it’s You personally. Not ministry. Not study. Not anything but You.

I appreciate You, I love You, and I’m committing myself to You. Jesus, You’re everything to me.’ That’s my prayer for us. That’s my prayer for you. In Jesus’ Name.


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